Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Enough Shilling! Back to Monster Killing!

So, I made a couple of posts that were advertising. Time to offer a monster.I sketched a little picture of the Grumprock that's basically "before and after."

The grumprock is a creature of the elemental plane of earth, but they are encountered on the material planes more frequently than other elementals since they form as polyps on large rock formations, eventually breaking away and wandering about, although they never go fer from their parent rock formation. They resemble ordinary boulders when they are inactive, which is most of the time. However, if they are hungry or disturbed, the top of the grumprock opens to reveal the creature's interior, which is much like that of a mollusk. The grumprock's interior extrudes a very long, triple-tongue that it uses to grab its prey and smash them around until the shells are broken and the creature is dead. Each of the tongues attacks independently, and if it hits, it winds around the victim. Anyone entrapped in this way can attempt to break free each round by making a saving throw just after being smashed. Smashing begins on the round after the victim is enfolded in the tongue, and causes 1d6 points of damage automatically.
Grumprocks are always surrounded by a pungent smell, which is rust monster pheromones. Rust monsters are attracted to the grumpocks by this smell, enfolded in the tongue, smashed open, and eaten. The area around a grumprock may be marked by the smashed shells of rust monsters if the grumprock has remained in the same place for long enough.

Grumprock: HD 6; AC 0[19]; Atk tongue (special); Move 3; Save 11; AL N; CL/XP 8/800; Special: tongue.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Tabletop Library 25% Off Sale!

Tabletop Library is starting a big weekend sale today, celebrating the inauguration of new site features, publishers, and products!

Type GRAND-25 at checkout to get the 25% discount -- most products on the site are included in the sale.

Joesky Tax: Does anyone still pay the Joesky tax? It's the premise that if you're making a non-gaming post, you should include some content with it. I don't have content, but I have a really good link to Greg Farrell's NPC generator for Swords & Wizardry, also usable with pretty much any of the old-school editions. Take a look!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Milo's Daily Deal?

So, pretty soon we're going to be starting a "Deal of the Day" program at Tabletop Library. And this is a picture of my Leonberger puppy, Milo. Chime in if you think we should use his picture for the "Deal of the Day" page and call it Milo's Daily Deal. Chewing on that grass stalk, he looks like he's all ready to wheel and deal for the big bucks.

The other option is probably a picture of a merchant.....

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Name of the Rose (or, of the blog)

So it might not be visible to everyone, but I've changed the name of my blog from Mythmere's Blog to Finch's Folio. The reason is that some of my RPG interests have shifted a bit from just writing about gaming to writing about the RPG market in general. Partly that's because I got fascinated with the whole "guild" approach going on at OneBookShelf ... I'm quite against it, by the way, but that's another story.

Anyway, I'm going to be writing on a different mix of topics than before, although still lots of purely gaming stuff. I got affiliated with Tabletop Library over the course of the last couple of months (again, an indirect result of the restrictive "Guild" system), so I'll have various comments on that.

In the meantime, for any readers who have their own blogs, take a look at the affiliate program at TTL and see if you'd like to participate. The link to set up an affiliate account (if you're already registered) is https://tabletoplibrary.com/affiliate-area/ (or HERE). If you're not registered, the home page is tabletoplibrary.com.

More later!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day

Happy Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day!
Thanks to Ryan Thompson of Gamers & Grognards for organizing all the activity, along with James Spahn, and Erik Tenkar. This is always a busy day for me...
In celebration I've discounted the Eldritch Weirdness Compilation on Tabletop Library, since it's one of the more ... interesting things I've written, most of it during a pretty bad fever that happened to boost the weirder side of the creative parts of what I call my mind.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Blight: Initial Thoughts

Frog God Games is Kickstarting a book called the Blight, by Richard Pett. It's the extension of adventures he wrote a long time ago for Dungeon Magazine, but as a result of doing so he lost the intellectual property for the "Stye," which was the original setting of his adventures. The Blight is a reconfiguration of that setting, into a full city description.

It's an evil city, which everyone loves, but at the outset I had some reservations about it from the standpoint of traditional gaming. It seemed awfully Victorian, and I was very worried about the risk of seeming like a Steampunk mashup with D&D, which isn't my thing. While I know that Richard is an excellent writer (his adventure in Heart of the Razor was my favorite of a strong group), the overall concept of the city appeared to me as something that might not work well.

On further reading, and asking one key question, I think the book is good. First, the key question that I asked was, "Can my guys walk around in plate mail?" Overall, in terms of flavor, this seems to me to be a touchstone question for whether a city "fits" with the need for a beer and pretzels option in traditional gaming. An acceptable answer is still, "Yes, but the city guard will arrest you," since that could be true in any number of medieval cities. A problematic answer would be, "That's not the city's technological level," or "plate mail is not used."

The answer to the question was actually, "Sure, it's a good way to handle the monsters."

Good answer.

My reading of the introductory material, which is still unconverted from Pathfinder format, is:
(a) No firearms
(b) Dimensional travel is highly involved in the city's flavor
(c) There is indeed a very Victorian feel to the place, but it's an extrapolation of what would happen in a city that used necromantically-powered industry for centuries to push itself into a Victorian age without steam or firearms. It's London powered by necromancy and golems.
(d) The result is something akin to Michael Moorcock's Granbretan in the Hawkmoon books, where there's a sinister use of technology without losing the fantasy element. This isn't to say that the result is similar to Granbretan, it's quite different indeed, but it's that sort of mixture. If Granbretan mashed together Nazi Germany and England with magic-baroque technology, the Blight also takes a magic-baroque technology (necromancy/golems) and mashes it into Victorian England with elements of creeping dimensional and planar features.

My next post will probably focus on the Granbretan analogy, because there's another Moorcock analogy here too: The War Hound and the World's Pain. Essentially Pett thinks like Moorcock, and has produced here something that Moorcock might have developed but didn't.

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Dark Medieval" Fantasy in the Borderland Provinces


The entire Lost Lands campaign is usually described as “Dark Medieval," and this is a bit about what that means. To me, at least. If you're a fan of what I'm talking about in this post, you should definitely go and check out the Kickstarter, which is running now (until Nov 15, 2015).
What do people mean when they talk about “Dark Medieval” as a way of describing the Borderland Provinces, or the Lost Lands, or Necromancer Games books? At a surface glance, the world looks fairly traditional: there are elves, there are halflings, there are wizards … what’s the big deal? How is that “dark?”

Basically, Frog God Games offers a “film noir” version of escapist fantasy, in contrast to Tolkien’s epic and folkloric approach to the same genre. Our adventures tend to have lots of horrific elements underlying the apparent reality, which is why you’ll often see us saying, “All is not as it seems” when we’re talking about the Lands. Where the Forgotten Realms have a strong tendency toward high fantasy and heroism, our world is a bit … well … ickier.

One of the strong themes of the campaign is that beneath the civilized veneer of things, there is actually a seething mass of rot, evil, heresy, and supernatural threat. Again, “all is not as it seems.” The Borderland Provinces campaign book, as a supplement, has more focus on the actual veneer than an adventure book. What does the “normal” world look like when I’m not in one of these dungeons? So there is a lot of material about culture, history, trade, and government that would be a bit boring if it weren’t for the fact that it’s written in a way to best drive the game master’s creativity about what kinds of adventures arise from that context. And of course, it also reveals a lot of information about what’s beneath that veneer, a peek into the aforementioned seething mass of rot, evil, heresy, and supernatural threat.

The Adventures in the Borderland Provinces book, of course, is all about the dark underbelly and nothing about the veneer. I'll have more to say about that book later.

If you’re interested in the sort of fiction driving this “dark medieval” world of ours, we can point to a few influential sources for those who are curious.

The first of these is undoubtedly Clark Ashton Smith. Smith's stories are broken up into five “worlds:” Averoigne, Hyperborea, Mars, Poseidonis, and Zothique. In particular, our adventures are comparable to the stories from the Averoigne cycle. Many of these stories are available online, in particular at the Eldritchdark site, which unfortunately uses white text on a dark background, making it a bit hard to read. However, as an introduction to Averoigne, you may want to take a look at one of the archetypal Averoigne stories, the “Colossus of Ylourgne.”

Another “film noir” fantasy author is Jack Vance. In particular, the Lyonesse books and the Dying Earth books are good examples of noir fantasy. The Lyonesse books are a strong influence on Matt’s Borderlands. Vance takes what appears to be a fairly light-hearted fairy tale world, but spins an extraordinarily dark view of its inhabitants. For Vance, the underlying horror isn’t the supernatural underpinning of the cosmic world, as it is for Clark Ashton Smith. For Vance, the underlying horror of a world is the people who inhabit it. If you haven’t read the Lyonesse books, be warned that many people find the entire first half of the first book to be tedious. After that, the pace picks up to an almost breakneck level, though. The books are Suldrun’s Garden, The Green Pearl, and Madouc.
For starters, to learn more, check out the Wikipedia entry for the Lyonesse Trilogy

There are some great examples of noir fantasy from a later period, and one of the greatest is Glen Cook’s Black Company series of novels. All of these are excellent, although there are rather a lot of them. The first three are generally called The Books of the North: The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose. Cook’s fantasy world is very bleak and quite terrifying, seen from the perspective of some people who are seriously out of their league and watching their options dwindle away rapidly.